JSOU - Afghnaistan, Coin, and the Indirect Approach 2010

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JSOU - Afghnaistan, Coin, and the Indirect Approach 2010

  1. 1. JSOU Report 10-3 Afghanistan, Counterinsurgency, and the Indirect ApproachAfghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachHenriksen Thomas H. Henriksen JSOU Report 10-3 April 2010
  2. 2. Joint Special Operations University Brian A. Maher, Ed.D., SES, President Kenneth H. Poole, YC-3, Strategic Studies Department Director William W. Mendel, Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.; Jeffrey W. Nelson, Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.; and William S. Wildrick, Captain, U.S. Navy, Ret. — Resident Senior Fellows Editorial Advisory Board John B. Alexander Alvaro de Souza Pinheiro Ph.D., Education, The Apollinaire Group Major General, Brazilian Army, Ret.Joint Special Operations University and JSOU Senior Fellow JSOU Associate Fellowand the Strategic Studies Department Roby C. Barrett, Ph.D., Middle James F. Powers, Jr.The Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) provides its publications Eastern & South Asian History Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret. Public Policy Center Middle East Institute Director of Homeland Security,to contribute toward expanding the body of knowledge about joint special and JSOU Senior Fellow Commonwealth of Pennsylvania andoperations. JSOU publications advance the insights and recommendations Joseph D. Celeski JSOU Associate Fellowof national security professionals and the Special Operations Forces (SOF) Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret. Richard H. Shultz, Jr.students and leaders for consideration by the SOF community and defense JSOU Senior Fellow Ph.D., Political Scienceleadership. Chuck Cunningham Director, International Security Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force, Ret. Studies Program, The Fletcher School, Tufts JSOU is the educational component of the United States Special Opera- University and JSOU Senior Fellow Professor of Strategy, Joint Advancedtions Command (USSOCOM), MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The JSOU Warfighting School and JSOU Senior Fellow Stephen Sloanmission is to educate SOF executive, senior, and intermediate leaders and Ph.D., Comparative Politics Gilbert E. Doanselected other national and international security decision makers, both Major, U.S. Army, Ret., JSOU University of Central Floridamilitary and civilian, through teaching, outreach, and research in the Institutional Integration Division Chief and JSOU Senior Fellowscience and art of joint special operations. JSOU provides education to the Brian H. Greenshields Robert G. Spulak, Jr.men and women of SOF and to those who enable the SOF mission in a joint Colonel, U.S. Air Force, Ret. Ph.D., Physics/Nuclear Engineering Senior Lecturer, DoD Analysis, Naval Sandia National Laboratoriesand interagency environment. and JSOU Associate Fellow Postgraduate School JSOU conducts research through its Strategic Studies Department where Thomas H. Henriksen Joseph S. Stringhameffort centers upon the USSOCOM and United States SOF missions: Brigadier General, U.S. Army, Ret. Ph.D., History, Hoover Institution Stanford University and JSOU Senior Fellow Alutiiq, LLC and JSOU Associate Fellow USSOCOM mission. USSOCOM provides fully capable and enabled Russell D. Howard Graham H. Turbiville, Jr. SOF to defend the nation’s interests in an environment characterized by Ph.D., History, Courage Services, Inc. Brigadier General, U.S. Army, Ret. irregular warfare. Adjunct Faculty, Defense Critical Language/ and JSOU Associate Fellow USSOF mission. USSOF conducts special operations to prepare the oper- Culture Program, Mansfield Center, University Jessica Glicken Turnley of Montana and JSOU Senior Fellow Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology/ ational environment, prevent crisis, and respond with speed, aggression, Southeast Asian Studies John D. Jogerst and lethality to achieve tactical through strategic effect. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, Ret. Galisteo Consulting Group 18th USAF Special Operations School and JSOU Senior Fellow The Strategic Studies Department also provides teaching and curriculum Commandant Rich Yargersupport to Professional Military Education institutions—the staff colleges Ph.D., History, Ministerial Reform Advisor; James Kirasand war colleges. It advances SOF strategic influence by its interaction in Ph.D., History, School of Advanced Air and U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stabilityacademic, interagency, and United States military communities. Space Studies, Air University and JSOU Operations Institute and JSOU Associate Associate Fellow Fellow The JSOU portal is https://jsoupublic.socom.mil.
  3. 3. On the cover. Special Operations Forces on horseback in Afghanistanduring Operation Enduring Freedom. DoD photo.
  4. 4. Afghanistan,Counterinsurgency, and theIndirect Approach Thomas H. Henriksen JSOU Report 10-3 The JSOU Press Hurlburt Field, Florida 2010
  5. 5. Comments about this publication are invited and should be forwarded to Director,Strategic Studies Department, Joint Special Operations University, 357 Tully Street,Alison Building, Hurlburt Field, Florida 32544. Copies of this publication may beobtained by calling JSOU at 850-884-1569. *******The JSOU Strategic Studies Department is currently accepting written works relevantto special operations for potential publication. For more information please contactMr. Jim Anderson, JSOU Director of Research, at 850-884-1569, DSN 579-1569,james.d.anderson@hurlburt.af.mil. Thank you for your interest in the JSOU Press. *******This work was cleared for public release; distribution is unlimited.ISBN 1-933749-46-6
  6. 6. The views expressed in this publication are entirely those of the authorand do not necessarily reflect the views, policy or position of the UnitedStates Government, Department of Defense, United States SpecialOperations Command, or the Joint Special Operations University.
  7. 7. Recent Publications of the JSOU PressIndia’s Northeast: The Frontier in Ferment, September 2008, Prakash SinghWhat Really Happened in Northern Ireland’s Counterinsurgency,October 2008, Thomas H. HenriksenGuerrilla Counterintelligence: Insurgent Approaches to NeutralizingAdversary Intelligence Operations, January 2009, Graham H. Turbiville, Jr.Policing and Law Enforcement in COIN — the Thick Blue Line,February 2009, Joseph D. CeleskiContemporary Security Challenges: Irregular Warfare and IndirectApproaches, February 2009, Richard D. Newton, Travis L. Homiak,Kelly H. Smith, Isaac J. Peltier, and D. Jonathan WhiteSpecial Operations Forces Interagency Counterterrorism ReferenceManual, March 2009The Arabian Gulf and Security Policy: The Past as Present, thePresent as Future, April 2009, Roby C. BarrettAfrica: Irregular Warfare on the Dark Continent, May 2009,John B. AlexanderUSSOCOM Research Topics 2010Report of Proceedings, 4th Annual Sovereign Challenge Conference(16–19 March 2009)Information Warfare: Assuring Digital Intelligence Collection,July 2009, William G. PerryEducating Special Forces Junior Leaders for a Complex SecurityEnvironment, July 2009, Russell D. HowardManhunting: Counter-Network Operations for Irregular Warfare,September 2009, George A. CrawfordIrregular Warfare: Brazil’s Fight Against Criminal Urban Guerrillas,September 2009, Alvaro de Souza PinheiroPakistan’s Security Paradox: Countering and Fomenting Insurgencies,December 2009, Haider A.H. MullickHunter-Killer Teams: Attacking Enemy Safe Havens, January 2010,Joseph D. CeleskiReport of Proceedings, Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) andOffice of Strategic Services (OSS) Society Symposium, Irregular Warfareand the OSS Model (2–4 November 2009)U.S. Military Engagement with Mexico: Uneasy Past and ChallengingFuture, March 2010, Graham H. Turbiville, Jr.
  8. 8. ForewordI n exploring Counterinsurgency and the Indirect Approach, Dr. Thomas Henriksen assesses several cases where the United States has employed an Indirect Approach toward achieving strategic objectives, and hesuggests where this concept has landed short of expectations. In the casesof Vietnam, Somalia, the Philippines, and other countries, he demonstratesthat it is often difficult to fit the Indirect Approach doctrine into such a widevariety of strategic and operational environments. His historical narrativecautions against applying a universal model for an Indirect Approach incounterinsurgency (COIN)—for example, the ill-fated use of Montagnardtribes as surrogates in strike operations beyond their local self-defensemissions. Moreover, mutual antagonisms between Montagnard and theSouth Vietnamese population hampered integration of the highland unitsinto the central government’s forces. There were difficulties in accommo-dating the Montagnard ways to the culture of ethnic Vietnamese. This issimilar to the challenges of nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan wherediffering cultures are attempting to be blended into a working sense ofnationhood. Just as the ethnic Vietnamese viewed with alarm the armingand training of the Montagnard people, the integrating of Sunni militias,the Sons of Iraq, into Iraq’s security effort was an unpopular step in the eyesof Shia security officials. In Somalia, the Indirect Approach emphasized the importance of localsurrogate forces for campaigns against violent extremist groups. In counter-terrorism operations, the Indirect Approach in Somalia consisted of usinglocal warlords to seize or assassinate suspects. While this may be a neces-sary way of dealing with terrorism in the Horn of Africa, author Henrik-sen believes that this approach aligned the United States with unsavoryfigures and offered little for the COIN concept of winning support amongthe greater Somali population. He also warns that as with Afghanistan,“the American way of COIN shades into rudimentary nation-building toestablish government-run social welfare services to mollify intra-nationalethnic antagonisms, and to channel political grievances toward the ballotbox.” The problem with all this is that working with and through the hostgovernment becomes nearly impossible when the government is ineffectual. vii
  9. 9. And doing the basic chores of government for the host country precludes theopportunity for a host nation to truly build the engines of good government. The Somalia experience also suggests that when the host-nation govern-ment lacks political legitimacy it hampers the effectiveness of the IndirectApproach. The use of Ethiopian surrogate forces in Somalia to prop-up theTransitional Federal Government was initially useful, but as Henriksenobserves, the strategy embraced the intervention by Ethiopian forces, whichalienated the Somalis. U.S. strategy must build on local support, not resortto foreign armies to impose their will on populations. In the Philippines, our discreet and behind-the-scenes approach toassisting the government has proven successful in helping that govern-ment counter insurgency in its southern islands. In a small-scale opera-tion intended to free the American missionary couple, Martin and GraciaBurnham (taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf in 2001), U.S. forces supportedthe Armed Forces of the Philippines using an Indirect Approach. Later,American special units trained and mentored the Philippine forces, whichavoided participation in direct combat missions against insurgents. Themany successes in the Philippines are not readily transferable to otherarmed-conflict zones because of the unique historical, political, and socialcharacteristics enjoyed by the archipelago. By tracing the use of the Indirect Approach as a concept that under-girds U.S. COIN doctrine today, Henriksen illustrates how the notion ofan Indirect Approach as a strategic concept has evolved, or more accu-rately transmuted, from the classic concept advanced by B. H. Liddell Hart.The observation of trench warfare firsthand energized Hart to producea post-war book, Strategy: The Indirect Approach. By his observations ofwars, battles, and engagements throughout history, Hart concluded thatrather than attack the enemy directly with one’s forces, the forces shouldbe moved to a position of advantage before an attack begins, to dislocate theenemy, upset their equilibrium, and reduce the will to fight. The orientationhere is upon the enemy force. Today’s COIN proponents use the IndirectApproach as a sound technique that conveys a small U.S. footprint, assistsa host nation to combat an insurgency, and relies on others to partner withus—a valid and appealing idea because our forces are spread thinly and thethreats seem ubiquitous. But the fit is not exact. In unconventional warfare, surrogate forces who conduct operations areoriented upon the enemy as Hart would suggest. Whether surrogates take aviii
  10. 10. direct or indirect approach to destroying the enemy is a matter of commanddecision. By working alongside surrogates, training, mentoring, and supply-ing them, we are participating in their action against insurgents. Also theidea that draining the swamp (or eliminating the root causes of insurgency)is an indirect approach is also a fuzzy use of the Indirect Approach concept.While the U.S. may be supporting a country’s internal defense and develop-ment plan, that country’s actions are quite direct. That we are supportingthe host country for our joint interests does not mean we are taking anindirect approach. Henriksen’s analysis of the use of an Indirect Approachin diverse examples is helpful for illustrating how the concept is used today,its problems, and successes. The Indirect Approach can have a positive effect when applied wisely,but the employment of surrogate forces is more that an economy-of-forcemeasure. The approach to every strategic challenge must accord with ourvalues as a nation, our national interests, and the objectives of our securitystrategies. It must also be applied in different ways to accord with the localpolitics, history, and culture. Henriksen makes a significant contribution toour strategic thinking about the Indirect Approach as a concept for counter-ing insurgency and violent extremist groups. His narrative shows that weneed to be prudent when taking the Indirect Approach. He cautions againstrote applications; each insurgency is unique and requires a thoughtful andsubtle use of the Indirect Approach. Kenneth H. Poole Director, JSOU Strategic Studies Department ix
  11. 11. About the AuthorD r. Tom Henriksen is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Until September 2003, he was the associate director for program development at the Hoover Institution. His other administrativeduties included serving as executive secretary of the National Fellows andNational Security Affairs Fellows programs, as well as director of the MediaFellows Program. Dr. Henriksen also serves as a senior fellow with the JSOUStrategic Studies Department. His current research focuses on American foreign policy in the post-Cold War world, international political affairs, and national defense. Hespecializes in the study of U.S. diplomatic and military courses of actiontoward terrorist havens, such as Afghanistan, and the so-called rogue states,including North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. He also concentrates on armed andcovert interventions abroad. Dr. Henriksen is the author of American Power after the Berlin Wall(Palgrave Macmillan, October 2007). A prior published book is an editedvolume on competing visions for U.S. foreign policy, (Hoover InstitutionPress, 2001). Other works include Using Power and Diplomacy to Deal withRogue States (Hoover Essays in Public Policy, 1999) and the edited collectionNorth Korea after Kim IL Sung (Hoover Institution Press, 1999). He also authored or edited the following books and monographs: OneKorea? Challenges and Prospects for Reunification (Hoover Institution Press,1994); The New World Order: War, Peace, and Military Preparedness (HooverInstitution Press, 1992); Revolution and Counterrevolution: Mozambique’sWar of Independence (Greenwood Press, 1983); The Struggle for Zimbabwe:Battle in the Bush (Praeger, 1981); Soviet and Chinese Aid to African Nations(Praeger, 1980); and Mozambique: A History (Rex Collings, 1978). Additionally, he has written numerous journal articles and newspa-per essays concerning international politics and security as well as U.S.policy toward rogue states in the post-Cold War era. Dr. Henriksen hasalso received research grants from the American Philosophical Society,State University of New York, National Endowment for the Humanities,and National Defense Foreign Language Fellowship Program. His bookMozambique: A History was chosen for the Outstanding Book Award for xi
  12. 12. African History by Choice. During 1982, he traveled to the former SovietUnion as a member of the forum for the U.S.-Soviet dialogue. Dr. Henriksen’s education and public service developed in the 1960s,specifically earning his B.A. in History from Virginia Military Institute(1962) and the M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Michigan State University(1966 and 1969). He was selected for membership in Phi Alpha Theta—thehistory honorary society—as a graduate student. During 1963-1965, Dr.Henriksen served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. He taught historyat the State University of New York from 1969, leaving in 1979 as a fullprofessor. During the 1979-1980 academic year, he was the Susan LouiseDyer Peace Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Dr. Henriksen’s national public service includes participation as amember of the U.S. Army Science Board (1984-1990) and the President’sCommission on White House Fellowships (1987-1993). He also receiveda Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service from the U.S.Department of the Army in 1990. He is a trustee of the George C. MarshallFoundation. What follows are other JSOU publications by Dr. Henriksen: a. Dividing Our Enemies (November 2005) b. The Israeli Approach to Irregular Warfare and Implications for the United States (February 2007) c. Is Leaving the Middle East a Viable Option? (January 2008) d. What Really Happened in Northern Ireland’s Counterinsurgency: Revision and Revelation (October 2008).xii
  13. 13. Afghanistan, Counterinsurgency, and the Indirect Approach Forewarned, let us take the better path. — Virgil, Aeneid One can’t fight a militant doctrine with better privies. — Bernard Fall, Last Reflections on a War The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered. — Edmund Burke, Second Speech on Conciliation with AmericaA merica is embarking on a new way of war in Afghanistan and else- where in which battlefield restraint, cultural subtleties, and armed nation-building enterprises matter more than destruction of theenemy. These innovations represent a doctrinal break from how the UnitedStates historically waged war in its most heroic chapters. The new doctrinerelies heavily on the use of indigenous surrogate troops, the goodwill of thelocal people, societal reconstruction, and the host government’s legitimacy,policies, and conduct. These underpinnings of the Indirect Approach, itmust be emphasized, often lie beyond Washington’s complete control oreven limited influence. By working through—and being greatly relianton—the agency of others, the recently evolved American strategy strives todefeat insurgencies and to deny terrorists safe havens from which to launchdestructive attacks against the American people and their interests. Evenexponents of the Indirect Approach, however, acknowledge that the strategycan never substitute as an alternative for the United States to ensure its owndefense. Yet America cannot directly intervene into every planetary ungov-erned space to eliminate terrorist nests from mounting strikes against theUnited States. The costs in blood, treasure, and moral authority are too steep. Faced with an expanding registry of under-governed spaces in dys-functional states around the globe beckoning to local extremist cells or 1
  14. 14. JSOU Report 10-3Al Qaeda-franchised terrorists, the United States urgently needs a strategyto combat the growing threat in an effective and reasonably inexpensivemanner. Yemen’s roots in the December 2009 attempted terrorist bombingon Northwestern Airlines flight 253 now firmly adds that Arabian Peninsulacountry to the lengthening roster of terrorist havens. Already, Pakistan, thePhilippines, and the Horn of Africa as well as Yemen have drawn muchattention from Special Operation Forces (SOF). In low-visibility missions,SOF partnered with indigenous security forces to engage terrorist cells inways well-suited to our current environment. Direct expeditionary interven-tion with a large conventional military footprint, accompanied by high-coststate-building undertakings to combat terrorist sanctuaries, will lead toAmerica’s exhaustion and insolvency. The new version of the Indirect Approach borrows heavily from therevamped counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy of the U.S. Army and MarineCorps. Local armies and police are trained in current U.S. population-centrictechniques of conducting COIN operations as they partner with Americanregular units and SOF. Although the Indirect Approach boasts many pluses,it demands substantial societal transformation, massive financial expendi-tures, and Western-oriented governments to serve as hosts for the attendantnation-building efforts. These requirements spawn troubling caveats andconcerns about fighting through the medium of a vastly transfigured politi-cal landscape. As Napoleon remarked: “War is a simple art, all a matter ofexecution.” 1 This study of shortcomings and miscalculations is intendedto hone the art of indirectly combating insurgent-based terrorism—theonly viable strategy for America’s active defense. The execution of past U.S.indirect campaigns and their implications for our current operations arethe subjects of this monograph so as to better inform its practitioners ofpitfalls to be avoided. The Indirect Approach owes its rebirth to the “surge” tactics employed inthe spectacular turnaround in the Iraq War starting in early 2007, althoughits roots date much further back. To calm the raging Iraqi insurgency, theUnited States military liberally paid, equipped, protected, and guided Sunnitribal militias, which broke with the Al Qaeda movement in Iraq becauseof its indiscriminate violence and harsh imposition of draconian religiouspractices. This central dimension of the Iraqi COIN breakthrough, alongwith the additional 28,500 combat troops associated with the surge opera-tion, profoundly reshaped U.S. military thinking, as no other event since the2
  15. 15. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachVietnam War.2 Thus the Iraqi conflict ushered in an innovative approachnow being employed in Afghanistan to replicate the paradigm of enlistinglocals to fight the insurgents.3 In North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and thePhilippines the indirect way of war is also in full tilt. In reality, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps historically have drawnon indigenous auxiliaries from our nation’s earliest conflicts. Americanforces employed variants of surrogate warfare from their frontier battlesin the Western plains, the Philippine insurrection, the Nicaraguan incur-sions, and the Vietnam War. The Iraq War, however, re-catalyzed interestin COIN techniques and in the usage of host-country manpower. Despitethe unique complexities of the … the U.S. Army and Marine CorpsIraq “surge,” the U.S. Army and plan to rely on the Indirect ApproachMarine Corps plan to rely on the in Afghanistan (and beyond) byIndirect Approach in Afghani- winning over the population …stan (and beyond) by winningover the population to furnish recruits for Afghan security forces, to turnover information about the Taliban insurgents, and to bestow loyalty on aforeign created and sustained central government in Kabul. The recent history of similar campaigns should inject a note of circum-spection in this new non-Clausewitzian way of war. The 19th-centuryPrussian military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, is mostly associated inAmerican minds with the principles of conventional war calling for force-on-force application of massive violence and the utter defeat of the enemyon a battlefield. For over a century, some of his writings influenced generalsto see the object of war as simply destruction in detail of adversaries. Inreality, Clausewitz has often been misinterpreted; his writings emphasizedthe psychological aspects of warfare. But U.S. land-warfare officers normallyproclaimed in Clausewitzian language “that the road to success was throughthe unlimited application of force.” 4 Their calls for maximum lethalityprofoundly shaped U.S. military thought for decades. Now, America’s groundforces look to another doctrine for subduing insurgency by winning over thepopulation, not simply killing insurgents, which requires larger U.S. trooplevels than high-lethality conventional operations. From privates to generals fighting in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,the new doctrine has taken root that the Afghan people are to be protectedmore than the Taliban insurgents killed. Army General Stanley McChrystal,the overall commander of U.S. and NATO forces in the mountainous country, 3
  16. 16. JSOU Report 10-3made his view clear on the new military metrics: “The measure of effective-ness will not be enemy killed. It will be the number of Afghans shielded fromviolence.” 5 Later, General McChrystal developed this point: “Success in thelong term, more importantly, will be when the people of Afghanistan developtrust and faith in their own government and military.” 6 As a force of 4,000Marines launched a drive to clear the Taliban from Helmand Province insummer 2009, they aimed at the well-being of the citizenry. “It is not simplyabout killing the enemy but about protecting the population and improvingtheir lives, which will help prohibit the return of the insurgent elements,”said an unidentified senior officer.7 Army Major General Mike Scaparrottideclared during Operation Khanjar (Sword Strike) initiated in July 2009:“But the fight, essentially, is about the support of the people.” 8The Ascendancy of the Indirect Approach DoctrineThe insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan have popularized the new Ameri-can way of war that emphasizes elements of nation building. This freshlyminted concept to wage indirect war against militants from Afghanistan,through the Philippines, to the Horn of Africa embodies a prophylacticapproach to terrorism. If schoolhouses, clean water wells, hard-packed roads,and medical clinics are built by Americans and staffed by U.S.-trainedindigenous peoples, the winning of hearts and minds will protect us frommore 9/11 terrorist attacks. People in the world’s peripheries, so the argumentgoes, will fight extremist movements and deny terrorists safe havens for theirnefarious activities, if we help them not only to defeat the insurgents in theirmidst but also to join the global economy and the world democracies. TheAl Qaeda network, the Taliban, and other radical adversaries fight fiercelyagainst these American-led social-reengineering schemes for a globalizedplanet. Their backward-looking ideology espouses a violent separation fromthe outside world, not integration into it. In the middle live the bulk of thepeople who wish a plague upon both houses so as to return to life beforethe conflict. The Indirect Approach to insurgency is now the ascendant strategy toconfront low-intensity conflict, whether terrorism or insurgency.9 This Indi-rect Approach relies on irregular warfare techniques and COIN capabilitiesto combat violent subversion and to protect the indigenous population. Itdemands that U.S. and local forces defeat the insurgents and then institutestreet-level protection followed by indigenous governance along Western4
  17. 17. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachlines. Thus the Indirect Approach has become infused with the new COINdoctrine of re-knitting the political and social fabric in modern form. Itexceeds the norms of the Foreign Internal Defense (FID) mission of merelytraining another nation’s military to combat insurgents or even conven-tional threats. The model is to follow the sequence of “clear, hold, build, andtransfer.” But the foundation of the new doctrinal arch is the enlistment ofindigenous recruits as a surrogate army or police force to engage terroristsor insurgents alongside of, or guided by, American troops, especially SOF.Briefly put, the idea of surrogate warfare is fewer American boots on theground, a lighter military footprint, and more indigenous soldiers fightingextremists, patrolling their own countryside, and constructing peacefuldemocratic nations. Building on the foundation, the approach envisionsenhanced political governance and economic development of poor regions. Until recently the Indirect Approach and indeed COIN warfare lingeredon the Pentagon sidelines. It was ostracized and demeaned in the windowedE-Ring offices of the top brass in the five-sided defense headquarters. Theiroccupants wished it away; instead generals planned for the epic force-on-forcebattles of the 20th century. High-intensity conventional warfare representeda familiar and comfortable choice for regular Army officers, still swayed bythe World War II experience.10 Its journey to the upper wrung of militarythinking has been lengthy and arduous.11 Arguably, COIN’s nadir dates from America’s Vietnam War, where itsexponents believe it never received a fair hearing from the conventionallyminded military chiefs despite ground-level breakthroughs. Shunted asideby the mainstream Army generals, who wanted to fight the war in SoutheastAsia with helicopter-borne mobility and formidable firepower, the Pentagonrelied on the conventional sweeps and heavy shelling of an elusive enemy inAmerica’s most frustrating war.12 The journey from the Army’s establishmentof its Special Warfare Center in 1956 to today’s application of COIN practiceshas been anything but smooth. Now the United States Special OperationsCommand in Tampa, Florida stands as the most uniquely suited to planand to combat what is viewed as a global insurgency of violent extremism.13 Not even a popular and charismatic President John Kennedy could budgethe hidebound generalship in the Pentagon to embrace the new realities offighting unconventional warfare. To the 1962 graduating class of West Point,Kennedy explained: 5
  18. 18. JSOU Report 10-3 There is another type of war, new in intensity, ancient in origins— wars by guerrillas, subversion, insurgents, assassins; wars by ambush instead of by [conventional] combat.… It requires … a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and therefore a new and wholly different kind of military training.14 After experiments in the Vietnam War, this new strategy, force, andmilitary training rose to front-rank importance during the initial phaseof the Afghanistan intervention and then again after the stalemated Iraqioccupation from 2003 to 2006. Now the principles of COIN—1) winningthe hearts and minds of populations under insurgent threat; 2) gatheringdetailed intelligence on foes; 3) wielding psychological carrots more thanmilitary sticks; 4) and working through, with, and by non-U.S. partners—areaccepted in the uppermost reaches of the Pentagon. Two very recent examples of the Indirect Approach thrust themselvesinto military thinking out of necessity: a. In Afghanistan, the SOF partnership with the Northern Alliance during the U.S.-orchestrated intervention against the Taliban regime after the 9/11 terrorism b. In Iraq, the Army-Marine alliance with the Sunni Awakening Councils (Sons of Iraq) movement consolidated in early 2007 against extremists and the Iraqi branch of the Al Qaeda network. The stakes for America’s COIN response are lofty, but no amount of cheer-leading alone can substitute for dispassionate analyses of the threats ahead.While COIN tactics—especially allying with former insurgents—enabledthe United States first to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and thenturn the tide of the insurgency in central Iraq, the history of conductingantiguerrilla campaigns is fraught with exceptions and caveats.15 Culture,politics, and local conditions confound any robotic application or template-like approach to neutralizing insurgents. The Indirect Approach doctrinecannot become a dogma. Make no mistake, the historical record of usingsurrogate forces cautions against operational certitude being placed in anydoctrinaire implementation of this strategy. Its application must be fromthe departure point of steely pragmatism. Given other options, the Indirect Approach does offer practical measuresand economy-of-force solutions to combat insurgencies in many of the6
  19. 19. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachworld’s remote arenas, where “swamps” can breed threats to the Americanhomeland. Direct interventions encompassing the regime-change paradigmand large-scale conventional armies are impractical within areas devoidof traditional U.S. interests. Not only has the Indirect Approach proved itseffectiveness in some contemporary applications, it has few realistic alter-natives. Direct warfare, characterized by force-on-force combat operationswith lethal outcomes, embodies too many limitations. Large-unit conven-tional invasions and occupations, particularly in the volatile Middle East,ignite pitted but shadowy resistance along religious as well as political lines.Direct engagements are expensive to the United States in blood and trea-sure. Moreover, they limit our ability to leverage partnerships for Americaninterests. And more fundamentally, they fall short of dividing our potentialadversaries, as took place in Iraq when Sunni militiamen in the AwakeningCouncils fought to a standstill their co-religious brethren in the very deadlyAl Qaeda in Iraq movement.16 Obviously, the global battlefield is complex and a strict separation ofIndirect and Direct brands of warfare is unrealistic. As SOCOM CommanderAdmiral Eric T. Olson noted, the two forms “are intertwined and occurringsimultaneously.” 17 For the sake of clarity in this narrative, the two approachesare separated here, although it is acknowledged that “intertwining” oftentakes place in actual practice.Alternative Approaches to Counterinsurgencies?Some military thinkers posit that global insurgency can be defeated merelyby counterterrorism tactics without resorting to a local U.S. military presenceor to the use of surrogate forces. They advance a purely punitive approach tooverseas contingencies.18 These strictly smiting tactics, it is argued, sufficedduring the early years of the American Republic when the Barbary corsairsboarded the country’s merchantmen and took America’s seamen hostage.Frustrated but largely powerless, America’s early governments paid ransomto free the sailors or tribute to Muslim polities of Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, andMorocco to be spared assault in the first place. These payments sometimestook as much as 20 percent of the U.S. Congress’s budget. Angered aboutthe excessive cash outlays, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison used theirpresidential powers to persuade Congress to fund retaliatory expeditionsagainst the Mediterranean pirate enclaves. American warships sailed intothe harbors on the Barbary Coast to secure the release of American sailors 7
  20. 20. JSOU Report 10-3or to punish the ruling pasha into “a just and lasting peace.” 19 The purelyreprisal policy largely succeeded. Cowed by the U.S. Navy’s seaborne power,the Barbary States ceased their raids on the Republic’s commerce, clear-ing a menace from the seas for the new nation’s legitimate shipping in theMediterranean. Contemporary equivalents of the 19th century counterterrorism opera-tions against today’s violent extremists, not bygone pirate enclaves, aloneare inadequate for the United States. The 1998 cruise-missile counterstrikeglaringly failed to eliminate Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Launched in retali-ation for Osama bin Laden’s twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenyaand Tanzania, the air bombardment was little more than a blow struck inthe air. This type of operational azimuth fails to eradicate safe havens fortoday’s terrorists who strive to unleash attacks on the American home-land with torrents of violence or even weapons of mass destruction.20 Thecounterterrorist course of action will find few adherents among reasonedmilitary thinkers. Nor will an exclusively punitive track suffice to removethe terrorist threat. Because of America’s humanitarian ideals and international standing, itis unlikely to copy the murderous tactics used in Algeria to crush the insur-gents enflamed by religious extremism during the 1990s or in Sri Lanka tocorner and destroy the Tamil Tigers (also known as the Liberation Tigers ofTamil Eelam) in 2009. The United States must think of long-term solutionsfor uprooting terrorist sanctuaries, not just striking back as was the casewith an ineffective missile response to the attacks in East Africa. Enduringresults of “draining the swamp” not merely removing the “alligators” aredemanded against enemies, who seek political kingdoms on earth accom-panied by mass casualties among their opponents’ civilian populations. Yet the strictly counterterrorist initiative has advocates. Armchair gener-als argue that the United States can deny terrorists sanctuary by “a verylight presence.” “Counterterrorism is not about occupation” argued BartleBreese Bull, the International Editor of Prospect magazine. Bull advocatesthe “combining of intelligence with specialized military capabilities.” Allthat is necessary for successes is “our intelligence and surgical strike capaci-ties.” By utilizing embassies and aid organizations (if they will cooperate)for intelligence this is all that is “needed to allow special forces to eliminateterrorist threats as they appear.” 218
  21. 21. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approach An example of the surgical strike approach is today’s missile attacks orcommando-type raids within Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.Even the utilization of these deadly strikes against Al Qaeda figures orTaliban cadres, however, has failed to stem the insurgency, although it maytemporarily frustrate its unhindered execution. It has generated widespreadanger among people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who claim that innocentbystanders also died in the bombardments. Indeed the U.S.-overseen Predatorflights have been credited with eliminating over a dozen top Al Qaeda andTaliban militants.22 But the collateral deaths of innocent villagers caused abacklash that led General McChrystal to tighten the attack guidelines in a“tactical directive” for the employment of bombs, missiles, and other heavyweaponry in populated areas.23 Efforts to eliminate or decrease civilian deaths are seen as a means towin over the ordinary citizens. “Air power contains the seeds of our owndestruction, if we do not use it responsibly,” said General McChrystal.24 Thedifficulty, as COIN commanders recognize, remains how to separate themilitia targets from the civilians they deliberately hide among. The use ofhuman shields restricts the recourse to pinpoint bombings, leaving the moreprosaic but discriminate applications of firepower to on-the-ground NATO,American, or their surrogate Afghan troops. Some in the ranks concludethat “the same measures put in place to protect the civilians can protect theTaliban as well.” 25 This self-restraint policy will be sorely tested as small U.S.infantry units take casualties from Taliban fire. Squad and platoon leaderswill call for close air support to offset their inferior numbers or weaponry,while they question the official rationale for not harming civilians who areknown to resupply and shelter militants in their midst.26 The beguiling notion of counterterrorism and “surgical strike capacities”appears feasible until the hard realities dawn. Imagine U.S. forces hunker-ing down inside beleaguered forts under insistent attack and reliant on airresupply. The Taliban, Al Qaeda, and their allied warlords, of course, willnot idly stand by while being raided by America’s elite commandos (NavySEALs, Army Rangers, and other elements). U.S. bases would be constantlyinfiltrated, besieged, and isolated. How can aircraft above or commando raid-ers on the ground differentiate among combatants and bystanders? How cansuspect terrorists be identified, apprehended, questioned, and incarcerated?Where will the local intelligence come from? Only an attuned military force 9
  22. 22. JSOU Report 10-3on the ground working with the indigenous population can ferret out usefulinformation for apprehension of fugitives or counterattacks on insurgents. American quick-in-and-out assaults, moreover, would be depicted aswanton depredations on hapless women, children, and ordinary Afghansgoing about their daily routines. Innocent lives, according to U.S. command-ers, are already too often taken with missile strikes from overhead drones,driving the locals into the arms of the insurgents. The almost inevitablexenophobic friction between the population and an occupation army leadsto the indigenous folks siding with the militants. Thus the local populationwould soon throw in their lot with the anti-U.S. forces. The U.S. “ink spots”would soon shrink to surrounded specs along with their influence andeffectiveness. An authoritative RAND study summarized the dangers of thissolo military approach: “Trying to crush insurgency by military brute forcealone in the Muslim world risks validating the jihadists’ claim, increasingtheir appeal, and replacing their losses.” 27 Nor do offshore bombardments or from-the-sky strikes preempt insurgen-cies. The Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff made this point whenhe discussed the military’s strategic plans for missiles with the capability tostrike any target in the world within minutes. Marine Corps General JamesCartwright spoke publicly in mid-2009 about the 5-years-in-developmentPrompt Global Strike missile that can deliver an attack “any place on theface of the Earth in an hour.” The general extolled the speed and accuracyof these transcontinental missiles and other hypersonic weapons. He notedtheir shortcomings also. Global strike is “not enough to sustain a fight.” It isa weapon targeted at one aim-point. Thus U.S. foreign-stationed and activelydeployed troops remain a necessity in an insurgent-prone world.28 Oncethere, the COIN troops recruit in-country personnel to divide their foes, winover the population, and fight the insurgents with local forces. This tactichas become the American way of war at the beginning of the 21st century.Offensive and Defensive Indirect OperationsExponents of surrogate warfare often neglect to differentiate between twotypes of this indirect method—defensive and offensive forms. The defen-sive mode is where American forces are aligned with indigenous troopsin defending a host government. They are the “forces of order.” In this role,U.S. troops are working with the host country’s armed forces to resist asecessionist movement as in the southern Philippines or antigovernment10
  23. 23. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachTaliban militias in contemporary Afghanistan. American and local forcesare attempting not just to preserve political order but also to improvethe welfare of ordinary people and theirgovernment’s responsiveness to its citi- The defensive mode is wherezens. Insufficient attention to a popula- American forces are alignedtion’s political grievances and economic with indigenous troops innecessities by the host rulers undermines defending a host government.the Indirect Approach. Thus SOF and They are the “forces of order.”regular troops rely on their hosts to dis-pense state services, avoid corruption, and behave with rectitude towardtheir fellow citizens. Bettering the lot of average citizens first means safety from insurgentattacks, coercion, or intimidation. This security umbrella also encompassesprotection from the host country’s own army and police. These internalsecurity forces need training in proper conduct along with instruction inmarksmanship, patrolling, and ambushing. Inculcation of the correct treat-ment of villagers requires training, conditioning, and the example of U.S.forces. Supplying the population with amenities such as clean water, elec-tricity, roads, schools, and medical clinics forms an important dimension ofpreliminary nation-building tasks. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United Statespreceded to the next stage of state construction by fostering conditions forgood governance, political parties, fair and free elections, and constitutionalgovernment. Political integration of disaffected ethnic populations into astate lies at the crux of U.S. COIN. Much depends on host governments, nomatter how committed American resources and SOF actions. A smallerU.S. military footprint and a larger host-nation presence helps minimizethe perception of an American occupation bent on producing facsimiles ofU.S. society. Against the backdrop of a massive and growing U.S. nationaldebt, the envisioned societal reconfiguring in Afghanistan lies beyond beinga practical model for replication in the world’s many ungoverned places. Following the invasion phase in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United Statesfell prey to fierce insurgencies in which it assumed the primary combatantrole. While fighting insurgents, U.S.-led Coalition troops painstakinglyassembled surrogate military and police forces so as to implement theIndirect Approach against the sectarian killers and ethnic militias. In thesecircumstances the U.S. ground forces bought time and space for indigenousunits to be mobilized, trained, armed, and seasoned. Elsewhere—Pakistan, 11
  24. 24. JSOU Report 10-3the Horn of Africa, and the Philippines—SOF and other service personnelcycled into the Indirect Approach without the necessity of engaging inlarge-scale COIN operations with scattered militants. Within the defensive mode, one further distinction can be drawn thatrequires little elaboration. It relates to the scale of the Indirect Approach.American efforts in the Horn of Africa and the Philippines, for example,exemplify a small-scale COIN model. The numbers of U.S. troops employedare modest and their visibility low. A full-throttle insurgency, by necessity,demands a much larger U.S. military presence in conflict-ridden theaters likeIraq and Afghanistan. It is obvious that the optimal arena for the IndirectApproach lies in quieter terrain, where it holds the prospect of forestalling afull-blown insurgency. Raging insurgencies offer much less scope for a trulyIndirect Approach because by necessity American land forces are directlyinvolved against the insurgents. The offensive format of the Indirect Approach was exemplified by theU.S.-led assault on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan right after the Septem-ber 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Rather than unleashing the combined armoriesof American power on the Taliban regime in Kabul for refusing to handover Osama bin Laden, the Pentagon looked to the locally rooted NorthernAlliance as a surrogate army. Implacable foes of the Taliban since losingKabul to its militia in 1996, the Northern Alliance fought on as insurgentsfor control of the mountainous country. U.S. Special Operation Forces andCentral Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents harnessed, channeled, and aidedthe Northern Alliance to topple the Taliban rule of Mullah MohammedOmar for its sheltering of bin Laden, the perpetrator of the 9/11 terrorism.On a less grand scale in Iraq, the Pentagon again resorted to marshallinglocal opponents of the Baghdad regime. During the “shock and awe” phaseof the U.S. invasion into southern Iraq, SOF tapped into the ethnic national-ism of the Kurds whose Peshmerga militia along with a Special Forces teamattacked Saddam Hussein’s army to the south. This was an approach borneof necessity. Ankara rejected Washington’s request to transit armored forcesacross Turkish territory to open a northern front in Iraq. The offensive course of action enjoys a rich and successful history.Afghanistan during the 1980s witnessed the implementation of the so-calledReagan Doctrine. In response to the Soviet invasion installing a puppetruler in mountain-bound state, President Jimmy Carter first shipped World12
  25. 25. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachWar I-era Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles to the Afghan resistance. Next, whenRonald Reagan settled into the White House, he greatly stepped up militaryand financial assistance to the mujahideen (holy warriors) resistance to theSoviet occupation, culminating in the transfer of Stinger shoulder-firedantiaircraft missiles, highly effective against the Red Army’s Mi-24 Hindhelicopter gunships. Reagan’s support helped turn the tide of battle againstthe Soviet invaders who withdrew in defeat in early 1989. Reagan also aided the contras in Nicaragua against the ruling Marx-ist party of the Sandinistas. This offensive Indirect Approach allowed theUnited States to counter Soviet and Cuban influence in the Central Americannation. The CIA armed, financed, and trained Nicaraguan exiles in nextdoor Honduras to wage a guerrilla campaign in a conflict that claimed some30,000 Nicaraguan lives from 1981 to 1990. Nearby, the Reagan governmentturned to a defensive application of the Indirect Approach by providingminimal aid to the embattled government of El Salvador as it struggledagainst guerrillas bent on imposing a communist-style regime on the tinyLatin American state. Assistance—material and instructional—from theUnited States proved decisive in both Nicaragua and El Salvador. Had Wash-ington not gone to their aid, indirectly fighting communist subversion, theoutcome in Central America would have seen Soviet client regimes in thetwo countries.29 The Reagan administration additionally tried unsuccess-fully to turn back the gains of the Marxist government in Angola by aid toJonas Savimbi’s movement.30 Offensive surrogate warfare is far easier to execute than its defensivecounterpart. It usually translates into a more limited and briefer military,political, and economic presence by U.S. armed forces. Normally, arms,financing, training, shared intelligence, and sometimes the application ofdirect U.S. conventional military power are provided. The “soft” populationsteps of classic COIN are not usually a major component of the offensive phaseof operations. Standing up a government apparatus after victory forms oneingredient of post-military operations as was the case in Afghanistan afterthe Taliban defeat. The Afghan case witnessed the United States movingfrom an offensive phase to defense operations after the Taliban commencedan insurgency in the mid-2000s to take back power. 13
  26. 26. JSOU Report 10-3The Indirect Approach—the Default Option NowConventional warfare tactics will not succeed in deterring and confrontinga global insurgency nor will other direct military approaches traditionallywielded against the regular armies in the great wars of the 20th century.Massive invasions, regime changes, and country occupations are as ineffectiveas they are unsustainable in an America economically hard pressed by a deeprecession and by a population wary and wearied of foreign interventions inlight of the Iraq War’s exertions. An economy-of-force prescription to secureAmerican safety and interests has become a necessity. In some sense, theIndirect Approach is America’s default option in its current struggle againstextremist-infused insurgencies in many parts of the world. Executing theIndirect Approach in different environments, therefore, requires makingadjustments at the grass-roots level. But above the tactical threshold andoften within the operational tier, if not higher in the politico-diplomaticrealm, there lurk risks and uncertainties. When any doctrine is embraced wholeheartedly, with eyes wide shut, itsadoption can give way to blinkered zealotry. The purpose of this essay is toadopt the honorable role of Devil’s Advocate to raise issues and to remindpractitioners that blind faith in a doctrine is folly. Lest any student of militaryhistory forget, the Vietnam War began for the United States as an advisoryand partner-building operation with the South Vietnamese government andarmed forces. Seeing its limited resources as doomed to fail, Washingtonescalated its commitment and backed into a multiyear, raging conflict thatsapped the nation’s well-being. The history of the U.S. Army’s official stud-ies and military intellectuals is replete with miscalculation and even tragicerror in planning for armed engagements.31 In just one example, the UnitedStates prepared to combat Soviet advances in Central Europe but woundup instead fighting to repel an invasion from the communist regime onthe Korean peninsula during the early 1950s. Caution and circumspectionabout the applicability of any overarching doctrine is in order, lest it becomea dogma. Boosterism for specific military approaches—for example, theMaginot Line—can lead to catastrophe. In short, the Indirect Approach isnot a universal silver bullet and even less so a template to be superimposedon every trouble spot without due diligence. Nor should a partnership strategy over-reach by grafting a 21st centuryAmerican societal model onto lands struggling to clamber into the modern14
  27. 27. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachera. Appreciating societal and operational distinctions will aid in the appli-cation of the Indirect Approach. For example, the distinctive Iraqi surgeoperation might be considered as a ready-made model for Afghanistan.But the Indirect Approach drew from threeinterrelated factors in the Iraq insurgency Appreciating societal andthat are not yet present in Afghanistan. In operational distinctionscentral Iraq the foreign-led Al Qaeda affili- will aid in the applicationate violated cultural norms with its nearly of the Indirect Approach.indiscriminate violence, doctrinaire impo-sition of Islam, and finally, targeting for assassination Sunni tribal leaderswhen they opposed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s policies. By the end of 2006,U.S. ground forces had begun to change the military balance on the groundin the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar. Thearrival of additional combat troops early the next year gave the Americanground forces the upper hand. The U.S. reinforcements on the ground andbetter COIN tactics confronted the Sunni, which constituted only a fifth ofIraq’s population, with the prospect of defeat. Instead, their tribal militias,amply bankrolled with U.S. cash payments, joined with the Coalition forcesagainst Al Qaeda. The United States was greatly favored by the turnaroundof the Dulaimi Tribal Confederation within Anbar province in central Iraq.This large, cohesive tribal grouping laid the foundation of the “awakening,”bringing in other tribal entities.32 Conditions within Afghanistan are currently quite different from centralIraq. The Taliban observes most cultural taboos within the Pashtun commu-nity. They made a comeback in the early 2000s thanks to brutality andcorruption of Kabul’s local officials.33 The Taliban insurgents responded tolocal concerns, instituted an elementary law and order, and so far avoidedrepeating the excesses of Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist movement. Moreover,the Pashtun—the country’s largest ethnic community—deeply resent theKabul government’s abuse of power, villainy, and pervasive corruption. Norare there present today Afghan versions of the Sunni figures Abu Risha alSattar and the Dulaimi elders who spread the “awakening” from tribe to tribe.The mountains and valleys of Afghanistan enforce territorial compartmen-talization, making intertribal cooperation difficult among the fragmentedtribes with their internecine and overlapping conflicts.34 As of this juncture, U.S. and NATO forces are battling to establish suffi-cient security in the violent southeastern belt to enable local leaders to line 15
  28. 28. JSOU Report 10-3up their communities against the Taliban insurgents. Notable breakthroughs,nonetheless, have taken place. In early 2010, the Shinwari people—a subtribeof the Ghilzai tribal confederation—joined with the central government in itsanti-Taliban campaign. Their cooperation marked a key realignment becauseof the Ghilzai stand, second only to the Durrani tribal confederation amongthe Pashtun. Moreover, the Durrani already has many members holdingsenior posts in the Harmid Karzai (who himself comes from the Durranibranch) government.35 Thus the Shinwari conversion to the government sidepoints toward other Ghilzai subtribes taking the same step. West of Kabul, ina less violent arena, the Public Protection Programs (PPPs) have also begunto marshal community self-defense units known as Guardians against theinsurgents. Started in early 2009, the PPPs will face a daunting environmentin the Taliban-contested zones along the Pakistan border, across which theinsurgents enjoy sanctuaries for recruitment, training, and regrouping. Backing and relying on tribal elements or local village forces is a double-edged sword, it could be argued, for the policy cuts at cross purposes withthe overarching goal of forging national institutions, such as multiethnic andmerit-based police, army, and civil authority structures. Tribal arrangements,to this way of thinking, are anachronistic; they look to ancient customsand practices that have little to contribute to modern states dependent oncentral governments. Matching ends and means—the ongoing calculus ofCOIN—applies especially in the Indirect Approach. As a practical matter,tribes capture their member’s loyalty, administer rough justice, and fieldmilitias that can deal a blow to the Taliban and establish stability in thecountryside. They represent innate, formed, and ready-to-use forces to wageanti-insurgency struggles. Beyond the Iraq conflict there are other places where the U.S. militarybacked the Indirect Approach that are worthy of our attention. The purposeof this monograph, therefore, is to examine three modern case studies wherethe Indirect Approach faired poorly or, at the least, raised concerns. Its usein Vietnam and the Horn of Africa witnessed shortcomings in surrogatewarfare. The third case, the Philippines, is arguably a success story, evensomewhat a model for other applications of the Indirect Approach. Yet it toomanifests some warnings about the universality of relying on other forcesand their governments to wage surrogate warfare to a satisfactory conclusion.At the least, the drawbacks, even unintended consequences, of American16
  29. 29. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachCOIN practices cum-nation-building endeavors must serve as yellow cautionlights as the U.S. military peers ahead toward a troubled horizon.Vietnam and the Aborted Indirect ApproachAmerica’s Vietnam War offers up many lessons for COIN operations. Thatconflict still stands as the contemporary starting point for examiningCOIN practices. America possesses a long history in waging small warsand antiguerrilla fights stretching from engagements with British regulars,to Native Americans on continent’s frontiers, and onto incursions aroundthe Caribbean. But its large-scale conventional wars in the first half of the21th century erased much of the memory and doctrine for COIN of earlierperiods. Vietnam, as we now know, was the call that reawakened the U.S.Army to the necessity of COIN, although it was a long time in answeringthe “phone.” America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia started evenbefore the 1954 defeat of France’s colonial rule in Indochina. In time, theUnited States unveiled a quintessential experiment in the Indirect Approachor surrogate warfare. In late 1961, U.S. Army Special Forces began sustained contact with theRhade tribe of the Montagnard people living in South Vietnam’s CentralHighlands. By that date, the Montagnard communities felt the pressure ofthe Viet Cong (a contraction for Vietnamese Communists) insurgents andthe South Vietnamese authorities. Located along the border of Cambodiaand Laos, the Montagnard habitat fell athwart the Viet Cong’s infiltrationroutes from north to south, which recorded increased foot traffic by 1959.The Viet Cong preyed on the upland people’s dissatisfaction with the centralgovernment in Saigon and tried to recruit tribesmen to its guerrilla ranks.When the Montagnards stayed aloof, they came under attack by the VietCong. The Montagnards were also threatened by government-sponsoredresettlement schemes of ethnic Vietnamese on their lands. Saigon dispatchedsome 80,000 refugees fleeing the communist North Vietnam onto Montag-nard localities after the 1954 Geneva Accords divided the country. The twodistinct peoples shared neither ethnicity nor language or culture and reli-gion. For the Montagnards’ part, they resented the encroachments by thelowland Vietnamese on their agricultural lands and hunting grounds. TheVietnamese, on the other hand, held the highlanders in contempt as savageswho lived simple lives and shifted from area to area for fresh soil and forestswithout establishing an advanced sedentary civilization. 17
  30. 30. JSOU Report 10-3 To block the infiltration route as well as to secure the borderlands, theSpecial Forces armed, trained, and organized village defenses among theMontagnard volunteers from December 1961. During the first year of theGreen Beret efforts, scores of highlanders’ established village-based self-defense forces under the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) Program.Often the Montagnard recruits within the CIDG ranks repulsed Viet Congassaults, although some villages did fall to the attackers. The defenders honedtheir fighting capabilities and others learned techniques for intelligence-gathering, scouting, psychological operations, and military instruction.The Green Beret units also assisted with medical treatment, farming, andeducation. The U.S. military training and civic action programs won over themountain people who defended themselves, swore allegiance to the Saigongovernment, and even founded programs to rehabilitate former Viet Congsympathizers. In time, the indigenous people formed their own health care,agricultural, and militia training cadres that geometrically expanded thescope of the American staff, which won the confidence of the locals whiledeveloping their martial and noncombatant skills. Funded and armedlargely by the CIA, the Special Forces possessed flexibility away from theregular Army bureaucracy for their paramilitary projects.36 Special Forces units operating in the mist-shrouded Central Highlandsamong the Montagnard tribesmen did grasp the nature of rural revolution-ary warfare. Their rice-roots-based self-defense communities, augmentedwith military civic action and psychological warfare soon locked out VietCong from parts of the highlands. The Special Forces COIN mission maderapid headway in rising up a surrogate force; it trained, armed, and helpedover 35,000 Montagnards establish their own village defenses.37 Even with all the CIDG’s progress, the regular U.S. Army commandharbored deep misgivings about the role played by the CIA in financing,supplying, and directing the bottoms-up effort, setting the stage for a policyshift. This command also desired to move from a defensive pacificationorientation to an offensive stance. The Military Assistance Command,Vietnam (MACV), the powerful U.S. unified command framework for allmilitary forces in the South, pushed for a war of massive assault to “find,fix, and kill” the enemy. Therefore, MACV removed Special Forces fromtheir village defense mode to a role supporting the offensive operations ofthe U.S. military forces rapidly steaming into South Vietnam by mid-1965.18
  31. 31. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachThe CIDG villages that did not collapse into disarray were integrated intothe larger Strategic Hamlet Program, which after 1962 attempted to resettlethe larger Vietnamese rural population into protected enclaves to dry upthe sea in which the guerrilla fish swam. The Viet Cong guerrillas quicklyinfiltrated the Strategic Hamlets hollowing out their resistance or directlybesieging them until they fell. Other problems plagued the Strategic Hamlets. Some peasants werecompelled to relocate into hamlets; the compensation for the forced resettle-ment was never paid. Inside in what were to be defensible perimeters, thepoorly trained inhabitants frequently refused to fight off the Viet Cong.Some simply turned over their weapons to the insurgents. The StrategicHamlet effort, while appealing in theory, resulted in alienation from, andanger at, the Saigon government. The Strategic Hamlet Program, if not theidea of defending rural communities from the Viet Cong, died with theDiem regime when it was toppled in November 1963.38 Even before the Strategic Hamlets failure, the American-led political andmilitary overhaul undermined the Montagnard success story. Under the 1963Operation Switchback, highland ethnic villages reverted to Saigon’s controlas exercised through its South Vietnamese Special Forces, who lacked theproper training, competence, and political sensitivity to step into the breachcreated by the transfer. The transfer alienated the Montagnards and soonscuttled the CIDG Program.39 The Montagnards and Vietnamese dislikedeach other immensely. The South Vietnamese government and militarilywere unprepared to take up the Indirect Approach of the Green Berets. Theyresented the autonomy enjoyed by the Montagnards since French colonialrule. The Viet Cong, moreover, took advantage of the antagonism. NorthVietnam deployed skilled propagandists to the south. They collected taxes,conscripted labor, and used terrorism whenever necessary by eliminatingvillage headmen, school teachers, and civil authority from the south. Theregular South Vietnamese soldiers also presented a problem. Their brutality,petty thievery, and general disorderliness torpedoed U.S. COIN efforts andexacerbated tensions with the Montagnards. Operation Switchback also changed the focus from defensive, village-grounded security to offensive and overtly military operations into VietCong areas and to the development of border-surveillance missions. Theoperation’s tight timelines did not permit an adequate period to prepare theMontagnards for their new roles. Critics at the time registered concerns that 19
  32. 32. JSOU Report 10-3Montagnards were being used as mercenaries in strike operations beyondtheir local zones to the neglect of the earlier successful missions as villagemilitia intended for local protection. Finding, fighting, and defeating theViet Cong became the new orientation rather than sticking with the Montag-nards’ proven model and building slowly a new force of the tribal warriors. In examining the Montagnard case study for its wider application, mili-tary thinkers and SOF practitioners ought to be aware of its limitations.Integrating the Montagnard units into the greater Vietnamese army wasrisky without a sea change in Saigon’s thinking and military forces. First,the Vietnamese mentality lacked the sensitivity needed to accommodatethe Montagnard culture. Second, even the Vietnamese special forces wereunprepared for the role of indirectly guiding surrogate units under theircommand in a COIN campaign. American military behavior also possessedsevere limitations. Regular U.S. Army instructors raised a South Vietnamesearmy that reflected an American conventional military. Other factors bedev-iled a smooth transition from U.S. Green Beret tutelage of the Montagnardsto a South Vietnamese one. The Republic of Vietnam’s district and provincial administrative machin-ery creaked along while being hampered with endemic corruption and fearof Viet Cong murder and intimidation that engulfed much of the South’ssociety. A call to reform Vietnamese society constituted a nation-rebuildingmission of enormous proportions. Dealing with intertribal antagonisms thatwere manifested in corruption, abuse, and violence is an essential part ofCOIN that soon blends into the much larger task of nation-building alongWestern lines. Counterguerrilla tactics alone are not COIN. The full arrayof COIN measures in Vietnam encompassed erecting civic institutions,medical clinics, and schoolrooms as well as self-defense capacities—in shortstate-building steps. State-building is a Herculean undertaking demandingdecades-long commitment, large sums of money, and strategic patience.Amid a raging insurgency, social and political reconstruction difficul-ties are compounded. National reconstruction in Vietnam lay beyond theAmerican resources, understanding, and timeframe. As such, the VietnamWar offers a cautionary pause to any counterinsurgent campaign in severelyunderdeveloped and violent lands. One drawback that later emerged from analyses of the Montagnard casenoted the poor results from the altered military role played by the tribalwarriors after Operation Switchback. MACV dropped the village defense20
  33. 33. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachmilitia concept almost entirely for the Montagnard units. Instead, thepowerful American headquarters just outside Saigon replaced it with anoffensive mission against the Viet Cong. The change in orientation madethem less effective in their former COIN mode. Analysts observed thatthe CIDG no longer functioned as a home guard but as strike forces. Oneexpert, Douglas Blaufarb, commented: “In this role they were close to beingmercenaries, something rather different from their original role, and fromthe viewpoint of the counterinsurgency, not as useful [italics added].” 40 TheVietnam experience demonstrated how difficult it became to move from asuccessful local-based indigenous protection force to an offensive one withouta loss of effectiveness in the overall anti-insurgency effort. Practitioners of the Indirect Approach, nonetheless, must be wary ofprojecting universal lessons from the Montagnard case study for severalreasons. The Montagnards numbered only around 600,000 amongst alarger Vietnamese population of 20 million. The tribesmen organized intothe village self-defense units tallied between 35,000 to 50,000 in the early1960s, when the Vietnamese forces stood at approximately 200,000. Butlater during the Vietnamization phrase of the war, the South VietnameseArmy reached half a million troops, with slightly less in the reserves. TheMontagnard constituency, while significant, was still small in comparisonwith the overall armed forces. More crucially, the independent orientationof the Montagnards was sharply at odds with the all-encompassing writof Saigon. This go-it-alone streak away from—or distrust toward—thecentral government is shared in Afghanistan and other nations plaguedwith contemporary insurgencies. The tribal-or-national approach to COINalso forms part of the debate in Afghanistan, where advocates of relyingon tribal units square off against exponents of forging a national army andpolice force to combat the Taliban.41 Another caveat about the exemplary Montagnard project requires noting.As an unintended consequence, the Special Forces contributed to some ofthe Montagnards’ resistance to the central government. By organizing thetribesmen into cohesive units, the special ops troops contributed to theirseparatism from the larger society. Christopher Ives in his study of thehighland COIN program concluded: “Indeed, the intercession by the Ameri-can Special Forces soldiers strengthened the nascent ethno-nationalism ofthe minority communities with both the rearming of the highlanders andthrough the civic action efforts that affected development.” 42 Therefore, a 21
  34. 34. JSOU Report 10-3contribution to U.S. surrogate warfare can result in less than productiveoutcomes when trying to foster unity across subgroups in an insurgency.It makes the overall COIN campaign tricky to implement across a patch-work of clans, tribes, sects, or ethnic communities. As U.S-orchestratedCOIN inclines toward nation-building endeavors, the integration of distinctpeoples presents a challenge, especially because the Indirect Approach mayemphasize separateness to harness martial qualities against insurgents. SOFimplementers of the Indirect Approach must ask themselves: Is it betterto defeat the local insurgent band or to build a nationwide anti-insurgentarmy? Does building a national security force impede the overall missionto defeat the militants? Often the two starkly drawn contrasts are absent,and the answer is to build one tribe at a time within a national framework. The defeat of the Republic of Vietnam 2 years after the American militarydeparture entailed far-reaching implications for the United States and itsCOIN proficiency. Along with an isolationist swing inward and deep politi-cal disenchantment among the American electorate, the unpopular conflictalso saw the turning away from the complexities of COIN warfare amongthe Army establishment, which resolved never again to become entangledin a guerrilla conflict. Conventional armor and air power incisions, likethose in the Persian Gulf War and the opening months of the Iraq War,won the admiration of the Pentagon war planners. Not until the expand-ing insurgency in Iraq provoked soul-searching among U.S. officers did theArmy and the Marine Corps introduce change in its operations, draft thenew Counterinsurgency Field Manual, and relearn the utility of the IndirectApproach to insurgency.The Surrogate Experience in IraqThe Indirect Approach—both among the Montagnards and even the regularSouth Vietnamese forces—met setbacks as noted in the preceding paragraphs.One of the chief problems was the integration of irregular units made up ofan ethnic minority into a national force. Neither the Montagnards nor theSouth Vietnamese received much in the way of practical preparation. Indeedthe very training and fielding of the Montagnards by the U.S. Special Forcesunwittingly exacerbated their animosity toward the greater Vietnamesecommunity, who they feared and loathed. This experience 40 years agowas not behind us in the Iraq War; indeed the past was merely prologue.22
  35. 35. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approach The difficulty in reintegrating distinct minorities into larger nationalforces was seen again in post-surge Iraq. As violence ebbed in Iraq, theUnited States pressured the Shiite-dominated central government of PrimeMinister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to welcome back the Sunni peoples into thenational fold. Among Iraq’s 27 million people, about 60 percent are Shia, 20percent Sunni, and the remainder Kurds and much smaller ethnic groups.The Maliki government relied mainly on Shiite Iraqis for its power and forits security forces. As the insurgency slackened, the Pentagon urged theformation of a single military force to promote national unity. Specifically, the U.S. military pressed for incorporation of Sunni militias,which had battled Al Qaeda insurgents, into Baghdad’s security apparatus.This would require the Baghdad government to open its army and policeranks to the “Sons of Iraq” units that the United States formerly subsidizedas part of the surge operation to bring peace and stability to central Iraq atthe start of 2007. The role of the Sons of Iraq (or the Awakening Councils)proved crucial to the American-organized COIN. Reintegrating these anti-AlQaeda forces into the overall Iraqi Security Forces, nonetheless, presentedproblems in implementation. Despite its massive military presence on whichthe Iraq government depended for its security, the United States had to workthrough hesitant Baghdad officials to secure the incorporation of the Sunnimilitias into the country’s armed forces.43 Fearful of the Sunni minority for its role in Saddam Hussein’s repressiveregime, the Shiite authorities proved reluctant to forget and forgive theirpast tormentors. In the end, the Maliki government only slightly gave wayto the American military’s insistence. His government continued to arrestAwakening leaders through 2009. It also disbarred nearly 500 candidatesmany with ties to Saddam Hussein’s former regime from running in theMarch 2010 parliamentary election. The detentions and exclusions stirredanxiety in the greater Sunni community,despite an appeals court’s decision to As of this writing, the historicaloverturn the ban on the candidates.44 jury is still out on the decisionEthnic harmony is essential for Iraq’s about Iraq’s continued unity.territorial integrity. As of this writing,the historical jury is still out on the decision about Iraq’s continued unity.The goal is still incomplete. Tensions cut across all ethnic communities asthey jockey for power, positions, and prosperity. In the north, the Kurdish 23
  36. 36. JSOU Report 10-3population longs for its own ultra-autonomy, if not outright independence.The centrifugal forces within Iraq that exploded with the ouster of SaddamHussein have yet to abate. The Southeast Asian history of micro-nationalism might repeat itselfthousands of miles distant and four decades from the Vietnam experience.Signs of ethno-nationalism conflicting with national unity have repeatedlysurfaced in Iraq. Assessments of post-American withdrawal point towarddifficulties in fashioning a unified country. The Persian Gulf country remainssharply divided among Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish populations. These ethnicdivisions defined the insurgency and they persist today. The Iraqi SecurityForces (ISF) lack a national ethos to insulate them from the political influ-ence of sectarian political movements. Instead of conducting themselvesas a national army, the Iraqi military is being pulled and politicized byethno-sectarian parties, setting the stage for eventual disintegration ofIraq in a post-American civil war. One study pointed out that as Americancommanders prepare to exit the country, their ability is slipping away tosteer “the ISF toward the direction of loyalty to the state.” 45 In Afghanistan,ethnic divisions, especially against the majority Pashtun tribes, bedevil thenecessary harmony for a united COIN front. In Vietnam, the Green Berets won the Montagnards’ admiration andrespect for their sharing the dangers and hardships of village life. Thisloyalty was not readily transferable to the Vietnamese Special Forces, whotook over for the Americans under Operation Switchback. Intangible quali-ties—like trust, goodwill, or allegiance—are fragile and not easily trans-planted especially in ethnically split societies marked by ancient mistrust,hatred, and long bouts of bloodshed. Countries with dense vegetation orsteep mountains inhibit national unity, making it even more treacherousto build nations among separated and fearful ethnic communities. Someof the difficulties in South Vietnam offer a major caveat to SOF engagedin overseas contingency operations against violent extremists. Buildingdistinct, cohesive military forces within an ethnic or village community isone thing; later integrating these same units into a national framework isquite another type of endeavor. Planning for eventual national solidarityconstitutes an element of a well-laid approach in the artful practice of COIN.In the short term, pragmatism, nevertheless, dictates a strategy of defeatingthe insurgents before attempting to fashion an integrated national societyalong modern lines.24
  37. 37. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect ApproachThe Somalia EpisodeOn the other side of the world, the Horn of Africa, and within it, Somaliaspecifically offers a more recent example of a less than resounding successstory for the indirect way of war against violent extremism. The Horn ofAfrica, a huge geographical area, is marked by a discontented population,grinding poverty, and weak or unpopular governments. Roughly 165 millionpeople inhabit this expanse that is made up of six countries—Djibouti,Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan. For centuries, the Horn ofAfrica served as a gateway to Africa from the Middle East. It lies just a shortboat ride across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula.Outside its urban centers, little economic development is evident in thisdesolate and arid zone about a fifth the size of the United States. Just to its south, Tanzania and Kenya were victims of the Al Qaida-orches-trated 1998 embassy bombings. Additionally, Kenya was the scene of terroristattacks on a hotel and an Israeli airliner in 2002. These attacks emanatedfrom neighboring Somalia. Being devoid of an effective central governmentsince the 1991 coup removed the military strongman, Muhamed Siad Barre,Somalia served as a terrorist transit zone. Somalia also harbors burgeoningfundamentalist Islamic movements, which became more prominent withthe passing of its military ruler. While some groups are merely reformist,others have taken up the jihad (holy war) cause against their countrymenand foreign aid workers. Strife is now endemic to the Texas-sized country.Ethnic Somalis also spill across the country’s borders with Djibouti, Kenya,and especially Ethiopia, exacerbating tensions within them as they maketerritorial claims on their foreign hosts for a Greater Somalia. Somalia is a badly fractured country. The northern corner fell under Brit-ish colonial rule for nearly a century until its independence in 1960. Beforeits self-rule, the southern strip suffered under Italian colonialism. A mergerof the two territories never really took hold. A quintessential failed state,Somalia hosts all the pathologies and problems associated with Africa andthe nearby Middle East. Divided by clans and warlords, the Muslim countryis anarchic. Its near collapse, in fact, prompted two parts of the country tosplit off from Somalia—Puntland and Somaliland—to the north and eastof the rump state. Both these territorial offspring remained relatively moretranquil than their parent, which has received the most antiterrorist atten-tion from the United States. 25
  38. 38. JSOU Report 10-3 While Somalia is nearly devoid of internal stability, its political gyra-tions reverberate regionwide. Efforts to reconcile its clan factions led to anAmerican setback in 1993, when a SOF raid to capture the notorious warlordMohammed Aidid’s lieutenants ran into fierce resistance in the streets ofMogadishu, the seaside capital. After two Blackhawk helicopters were shotdown by small-arms fire and 18 elite U.S servicemen were killed in the dustystreets, the Clinton White House called off its nation-building experimentand pulled American forces out 6 months later.46 The American withdrawalencouraged Osama bin Laden, who noted Washington’s retreat in his 1996chilling fatwa threatening “Crusaders and Zionists” with destruction.47 Nextthe United Nations departed. The country soon plummeted downward inchaos, virtually unnoticed by the outside world.Somalia after 9/11Just as the 9/11 attacks revived Pentagon interest in the southern Philippineislands (to be described below) and other potential terrorist sanctuaries,they also concentrated attention on Somalia and the greater Horn of Africa.The Defense Department decided to preclude the growth of likely terroristsafe havens in the Horn by dispatching military forces to the region. In June2002, it stood up the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)in the tiny wedge of country, Djibouti. Known before its independence in1977 as French Somalia, Djibouti fronts on the Red Sea just where it opensinto the Gulf of Aden and beyond to the Indian Ocean. The tiny state hasless than a million inhabitants. Fort Lemonier became the home for some1,800 U.S. troops and a French Foreign Legion brigade. U.S. forces also stageoperations from bases in Kenya (Manda Bay) and Ethiopia (Bilate, Hurso,and Gode). Operating mainly from a former Foreign Legion outpost, theAmerican mission centered on human and signal intelligence acquisition,humanitarian endeavors, and chiefly military training of African soldiersfor counterterrorism. Or as stated by its occupants, its job is “waging peace”in lands afflicted by starvation, disease, lawlessness, violence, poverty, andAl Qaeda.48 The Bush administration earmarked $100 million in 2003 for an anti-terrorism campaign by boosting the civil and security capabilities withinthe states in the Horn. The financial assistance to Africa and the Djiboutipost served as a forerunner to the 2007 announcement of the U.S. AfricaCommand (AFRICOM), the latest and sixth geographical combatant26
  39. 39. Henriksen: Afghanistan, COIN, and the Indirect Approachcommand. To a degree greater than its sister commands, AFRICOM is toimplement jointly with the Department of State and other civilian agenciesthe so-called 3-D approach to chaotic arenas, fragile states, and potentialinsurgency—combining defense, diplomacy, and development. The CJTF-HOA remains a microcosm of the continental enterprise for 53 nations. Nipping an insurgency in the bud, as often asserted, is deemed the mosteffective means of preventing extremists taking root in receptive soil. Onceit becomes entrenched, the COIN costs more in lives, money, and tears. Topreempt low-intensity conflicts in the Horn, the CJTF-HOA has employeda mix of measures, such as the use of surrogate forces and of hearts-and-minds measures to win over the loyalty of the population. Winning popularsympathy requires first protection and security for people from insur-gent attacks or intimidation. Next the bestowing of human services to thegeneral population figures prominently among champions of benign COIN.Fresh water, electricity, medical and veterinarian care, passable roads, andschools—all rank high as necessary services to convince citizens that thegovernment has their best interests at heart. Therefore, the American wayof COIN shades into rudimentary nation-building to establish government-run social welfare services, to mollify intra-nation ethnic antagonisms, andto channel political grievances toward the ballot box—all enterprises seenat work in Afghanistan. Tapping indigenous troops for all these civil-engagement missions isprimary. Host governments and local forces win legitimacy by protecting andaiding ordinary citizens. Governments likely to succumb to insurgents areperceived as remote, uncaring, brutal, and corrupt. The idea is to strengthenindigenous institutions and to train their officials in the proper conduct.Soldiers, police, and civilian authorities have to win the hearts and mindsof their fellow citizens, not alienate them through highhandedness, villainy,or cruelty. Thus the American way of COIN flows directly into social-reen-gineering of societies with a high dose of American ideals. The transferenceof strictly military skills will not suffice; the goal for counterinsurgents is touse “every opportunity to help the populace and meet its needs and expecta-tions,” as outlined in the Counterinsurgency Field Manual.49 Foreign soldiers are rarely trusted or truly welcomed for long stretches,particularly when considered an army of occupation. Nationalism andxenophobia lurk just beneath the surface. Locals view foreigners as occu-piers or at least outsiders, something that insurgents play upon to incite 27
  40. 40. JSOU Report 10-3resistance. Therefore, the Indirect Approach emphasizes the importance oflocal surrogate forces for campaigns against violent extremism. In practice,the United States violated its own established principle of classic COIN inSomalia not long ago but it had little alternative to prevent the takeover ofthe extremist movement. Within the Horn of Africa, the Djibouti base quickly assumed an activehand in combating Islamist insurgents bent on fashioning Taliban-styletheocracies in the parched lands to its west. Thus it served as a springboardto counterattack militants threatening Somalia as it plunged into instability.Virtual chaos prevailed in Somalia since the 1991 coup toppled Siad Barre,the country’s dictator since a 1969 military takeover. Washington brieflyintervened into Somalia in mid-1992 at the head of the United Nations reliefmission to feed the starving and destitute population. The humanitarianrelief saved hundreds of thousands of destitute Somalis from death. TheUnited States withdrew the bulk of its 28,000 troops starting in early 1993and officially turned over further food distribution to the United Nations inMay. Due to the State Department instigating an elementary form of nation-building, the U.S. military forces fell victim to “mission creep” moving fromstraightforward food distribution to policing missions to bring reconciliationamong the warring clans.50 This militarized diplomacy culminated in the 3October 1993 urban battle in the streets of Mogadishu, as noted on page 26. Over the next decade, Somalia descended into anarchy as rival warlordsfought turf battles to establish tyrannical fiefdoms in which to shakedown thepopulace for bribes or ransom. A spate of flawed and short-lived governmentscame and quickly passed from the political scene without leaving a trace oforder or reconciliation. Various extremist groups, some with alleged linksto Al Qaeda, jockeyed for power against venal warlords. Jihadism becameespecially associated with al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI—the Islamic Union),a band of Wahhabi militants who killed, coerced, and intimidated in thecause of establishing an Islamic emirate in the dusty country. Later AIAIdisappeared as an identifiable organization in Somalia, a not uncommonoccurrence among radical groups in the Horn.51 One Al Qaeda-affiliatedcell facilitated the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar esSalaam. Later militants from the same cell attacked a tourist hotel on theKenyan coast in 2002 and attempted to shoot down an Israeli charter planewith missiles. From Somali bases, other jihadis, connected to Al Qaeda andfunded by Islamic charities in the Arabian Peninsula, staged terrorist attacks28

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